With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!
Publisher: Marvel Comics
*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*
Number of Issues: 5
First Issue: May 2009 ($2.99)
Last Issue: September 2009 ($2.99)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Sean Chen
Following Marvel’s Secret Invasion, the Fantastic Four return to the Baxter Building and Reed Richards quickly builds himself the Bridge. It allows him to analyze the thousands of alternate realities that exist to see if he could have done anything to prevent the recent events (Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, Superhuman Registration Act, etc) from occurring. At the same time, Norman Osborn has directed H.A.M.M.E.R. to attack the Baxter Building to submit the Fantastic Four to a review in the hopes of determining if they will be allowed back into the Initiative Program. The resulting power surge causes the Bridge’s Visualizer to send the other three members of the team (the Thing, the Human Torch and the Invisible Woman) on a trip through alternate realities/times: battling Celestials, dinosaurs, WWII soldiers, knights, wild west gunmen and pirates.
Meanwhile, Franklin and Valeria are left to fend off Norman Osborn and Venom (Mac Gargan – formerly the Scorpion) from their intrusion into the Baxter Building. Fortunately, Reed powers down the Bridge after analyzing all the results, freeing the rest of the team from its effects. With the team reunited again, they send Osborn and his agents packing. Upset at the danger the Bridge put her family in, Sue demands that Reed destroy it. But, will our inquisitive scientist hero be able to destroy such a powerful device? You bet he won’t! Especially now that he knows what he needs to do to put things right with the super hero community once again.
The Bad: Hickman uses this mini-series to build up the plot he’s developing in the monthly Fantastic Four title … so it doesn’t have a true stand-alone feeling. And, as far as this relates to Norman’s Dark Reign – nothing happens! He tries to gain access to the Baxter Building and the team sends him away. The End! Rather lacking for a five issue series under the Dark Reign banner, if you ask me.
The Good: The story is able to provide an interesting analysis of why things went wrong in the Marvel Universe and attributes them to specific characters. It’s an interesting look at how Reed’s pure motives got tainted by the ideas of other heroes.
The Verdict: While I found Reed’s thought-processes of what went wrong to be pretty interesting, the adventures of the rest of the team were pretty meaningless. The final showdown between Osborn and the Fantastic Four was ended pretty quickly and then some mystery characters were introduced that weren’t paid off in this story (although, I can only assume they’ll pop up in the ongoing FF title). In the end, it just seems like this series is a lead-in to the (hopefully) more important events going on in the monthly title – so perhaps your reading time would be better spent there.
On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Dark Reign | Jonathan Hickman | Sean Chen